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Cebu News

Operation of sea cottages to end August 29: Cordova sea set for rehab

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  By August 29, 2022, the controversial fixed and floating cottages in Cordova, Cebu will stop operating.

In a public forum on Wednesday, August 17, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she will give owners and operators of the cottages until August 28 to prepare for closure, which will pave the way for rehabilitation of the town’s seawaters.

The cottages are located in Barangays Poblacion and Catarman.

Cordova Mayor Cesar Suan said the municipal waters of the town are off limits to either fixed or floating cottages even in areas where fecal coliform is not present.

“Tibuok sa lungsod sa Cordova, walay nay fixed and floating cottages. Wala mi naglisud- lisud ninyo. In the long run, makabenepisyo ra mo. So, please, be cooperative mo sa among gibuhat. Dili ni sayon nga political will but mao kini ang kinahanglanon nga buhaton aron mapaspas ang atong rehabilitasyon,” Suan told operators.

Garcia, for her part, said the provincial government and the municipal government want a “clear cut overall solution” but “makatarunganon nga pamaagi” on recent findings that eight areas located within the 33-hectare municipal waters of Cordova have high level of fecal coliform.

She said what Cordova is experiencing is an environmental disaster and both the provincial and municipal governments will do their best to fast track rehabilitation.

Garcia said that owners and operators of both fixed and floating cottages have no right to make demands because their operation is illegal in the absence of a mayor’s permit. The pumpboats of boatmen who ferry visitors to the cottages are also not registered with the Maritime Industry Authority.

Garcia said she will issue another executive order starting August 18, 2022, only authorized pumpboat operators who have passenger’s insurance and proper registration are allowed to carry tourists or passengers from the port to the floating cottages in the future.

Sampling

Cindylyn Pepito, chief of the Environmental Education and Information Unit of EMB-7, said water samples were collected via grab sampling within the vicinity where the floating and fixed cottages were located. A confirmatory sampling activity was also conducted to verify precision of results gathered.

On July 20, 2022, a team from EMB-7 conducted monitoring and survey inspection of the floating and fixed cottages located along the coastal waters of Cordova. An ambient water coastal water sampling was also conducted by the same team/group.

To verify the results of the ambient water quality conducted, a confirmatory sampling and inspection were conducted on August 10, 2022 and during monitoring, water was at its highest tide, indicating the flushing in of pollutants.

Tourists were still arriving and many of the cottages were not occupied when samples were being collected.

Final verification and confirmatory water quality monitoring was conducted on August 14, 2022 and the monitoring activity was conducted on a Sunday afternoon to ensure that water quality results would be representative of a crowded weekend in Cordova.

The following are the seven sampling stations for the ambient coastal water sampling conducted: Front of Cottage #1, Front of Cottage #33, Front of Cottage #81, Front of Lighthouse, Bantayan Bay (Between Mangrove & Bora-Bora), Entrance to Bantayan Bay, and near Cottage # 29 (between Bora-Bora and fixed cottages).

The sampling stations were identified based on the locations of the existing fixed and floating cottages that have the potential to generate domestic wastewater from daily operations such as human excrement and washings from the used dishes of guests and food wastes.

This is detrimental to the environment, authorities say, because the floating structures have no proper restrooms, thereby, human wastes have a high possibility of being flushed directly into the sea.

Results

Results of analyses of ambient water quality samples collected on July 20, 2022 and August 10, 2022 revealed that four out of seven and six out seven stations exceeded the allowable levels of fecal coliform at 100 MPN/100mL, respectively.

Results also show that stations 6 and 7 have exceeded Oil and Grease concentrations for both sampling events.

In Station 2, it was found out that fecal coliform reached 2,400 MPN/100ml during the August 10, 2022 water quality monitoring.

In line with these findings, EMB-7 recommend to the municipal government to convene a regular meeting with the Provincial Government of Cebu, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Tourism (DOT) for an in-depth discussion on the issue.

It also recommended for Cordova to convene stakeholders operating in the area and apprise them of the current waste management concerns and the different laws violated, and to take action to mitigate environmental pollution.

The following actions are respectfully recommended:

• Enforce applicable permitting requirement pursuant to their existing orders and resolutions for all the owners of the fixed and floating cottages within their territorial jurisdiction with the following pre-requisites in the issuance of the said permits;

• Require all floating and fixed cottages to install each a comfort room with proper catchment to ensure that all human wastes are not discriminately discharged to the said water body;

• Require all floating and fixed cottages owners to install proper wastewater catchment of wastewater generated from washings e.g., oil-contaminated food containers;

• Require all floating and fixed cottages to install wastes bins with proper segregation at source of the generated solid residual wastes within the cottage;

• For the MLGU to create a mechanism for the centralized collection of waste from the cottages;

• For the MLGU to coordinate with a wastewater treatment facility who can properly treat the collected wastewater from the cottages;

• For the MLGU to secure the necessary clearances and permits from this Bureau;

• Conduct regular monitoring and inspection to all the floating and fixed cottages to check their compliance with the existing rules and regulations of MLGU. – JMO (FREEMAN)

GWENDOLYN GARCIA

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